autism

Speech Matters July 2011

A Speech Language Pathologist can help children with autism

Speech Matters

by Cheryl D. Lindsay M.S. S-LP

The Autism Society of Canada website provides the following definition: “Autism Spectrum Disorder, also referred to as autism, is a neurological disorder which causes developmental disability. Autism affects the way the brain functions, resulting in difficulties with communication and social interaction, and unusual patterns of behaviour, activities and interests.”

Autism affects boys four times more often than girls and usually appears in the first three years of life.

In the term Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD), the word spectrum is used to show the uniqueness of each child with autism. There are milder forms of the disorder, sometimes called “higher functioning” autism, diagnosed using the term Aspergers. The other end of the spectrum includes children exhibiting more severe characteristics.

It is so important to realize that each child diagnosed with ASD has individual strengths and weaknesses. Children with autism find it difficult to interpret and then respond to information in their environment.

Some of the more common characteristics that are seen in children with autism include: 

1. Communication:

-may be verbal or nonverbal

-pronunciation variable; speech may be telegraphic, or robotic,

 with a high pitched voice

-echolalic speech i.e. repeating what they have heard

-use of “canned phrases” or learned responses

-may be able to repeat entire scripts from movies but unable to answer simple questions.

-rely more on gestural communication, such as hand leading to

 request

2. Motor Abilities:

-fine motor deficits  

-poor coordination

-depth perception deficit

3. Social Interaction:

-poor pragmatics or social language – i.e. may not show interest in

 others

-poor processing of semantics or meaning- i.e. may take you  

 literally

-may resist or be overly affectionate

-lpoor eye contact

4. Behaviours:

–flapping, spinning

-lining up toys

-inappropriate play with toys i.e. focused on a moving part vs. the

 whole

5. Sensory:

-may be overly sensitive to or seek stimuli such as noise, light,

 texture

-may be overly sensitive to or seek stimuli such as deep pressure

6. Safety issues:

-not aware of harmful situations, may self-injure

7. Health issues:

-Gastro-intestinal sensitivities and sleep disturbances

The cause of ASD is still unknown but research is flourishing. Early intervention is crucial. Your doctor, early intervention professionals and speech-language pathologist can be excellent resources.

ASD must be diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician. When parents bring their child to see an SLP because of a delay in speaking, the SLP may use an inventory or checklist to help in ruling out autism. An SLP also provides help with an individually tailored treatment plan, which may include elicitation of verbal responses, teaching gestures and sign language, a picture exchange communication system, (PECS) or other augmentative or alternative communication, (AAC). Building routines during interaction can be helpful when teaching language and new forms of communication.

Some children with autism benefit from IBI (intensive behaviour intervention). This is highly structured behaviour, cognitive and social skills therapy provided by specifically trained individuals.

Autism not only impacts the child, but their parents, family members, caregivers and professionals providing help. It may be overwhelming for families who must familiarize themselves with the many different disciplines and resources associated with supporting their child.  Knowledge and awareness are crucial to understanding ASD and getting help.

References: www.autismsocietycanada.ca, www.autismcanada.org/pdfs/PhysicianHandbook.pdf

Speech Matters May 2011

Speak Well, Hear Well, Live Well”:  May is Speech and Hearing Month

 

Speech Matters

by Cheryl D. Lindsay M.S. S-LP

The month of May has been designated by the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, (CASLPA), as Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.

“One out of ten Canadians lives with a serious communication disorder.” (Source: www.caslpa.ca )

The goal for speech-language pathologists and audiologists is to enhance one’s quality of life by improving communication skills.

It is important that speech and hearing problems be identified as early as possible. In the past few years, and again this year, free speech and hearing screenings are being offered at the Early Years Centre, in Hanover, (ph. 519-376-8088).

A speech-language pathologist, (S-LP), is able to help assess, diagnose and treat many aspects of disordered communication. These include:

  • Voice:  clarity, volume, pitch, hoarseness
  • Articulation, or, how sounds are produced
  • Receptive language, or, understanding
  • Expressive language, or speaking
  • Swallowing
  • Dysfluency or stuttering
  • Respiration
  • Apraxia or motor planning
  • Phonological processing

An SLP, as part of a health care team, is also able to help people who have communication challenges as part of, or, in conjunction with, other diagnoses such as:  

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
  •  Down syndrome
  •  Pierre-Robin Syndrome
  • Acquired Brain Injury, (ABI)
  • Central Auditory Processing Disorder
  • Cleft palate
  • Cerebral Palsy

Communication delays or disorders that affect children in infancy to preschool years, may have consequences that affect success in school, both socially and academically. Early identification and treatment can be critical to a child’s success.

If you are concerned about any aspect of your, or a family member’s communication, speech language pathologists and audiologists are here to help. To find a qualified professional in your area, visit www.caslpa.ca.

(Next Month: Taking care of your voice)

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